Bohemian Rhapsody surprised Hollywood by winning the top drama prize at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, but the film’s big honor quickly turned awkward and controversial.
After cast and producers took the stage to accept the award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, producer Graham King notably didn’t mention the film’s director, Bryan Singer. Neither did star Rami Malek when he took home Best Actor in a Drama for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury.
Singer’s absence from the stage and lack of shout-outs are perhaps not surprising considering his history with the film and personal controversies.
Moreover, for years Singer has been repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct; in December 2017, he was sued by a man claiming the director raped him when he was 17 years old. (Singer has dismissed such reports as “false accusations and bogus lawsuits.”)
Within moments of the film’s win, people on Twitter were quick to notice both the lack of mention of Singer on stage and the fact his film was honored so heavily on a night when many celebrities vocally and visibly supported the Time’s Up and #MeToo movement (see some examples of the online reaction below).
Adding to the online debate was the film itself. Bohemian Rhapsody received mixed reviews from critics (even though Malek’s performance was widely praised), yet beat out Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk and odds-on favorite A Star Is Born for the win.
Backstage at the Globes, producer Graham King was asked by reporters about the Singer omission and the online backlash. “That’s not something we should talk about tonight,” King said, adding, “every single person collaborated and did [the film] out of passion [for] making this story. That was everybody.”
Continued Malek, “There was only one thing we needed to do, celebrate Freddie Mercury. He is a marvel. Nothing was going to compromise us. We’re giving him the love, celebration and adulation he deserves.”
Singer previously addressed his departure from the film in a statement: “Bohemian Rhapsody is a passion project of mine. With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control. Rumors that my unexpected departure from the film was sparked by a dispute I had with Rami Malek are not true. While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving. I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first.”
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter Sunday night:
UPDATE: The filmmaker reacted to his win on Instagram with a photo of directing a scene from the film while on set: “What an honor. Thank you #HollywoodForeignPress.”
—Lynette Rice contributed to this report.